Shanghai Mayor Xu Kuangdi has mapped out an ambitious plan to develop the mainland's leading industrial and commercial hub into a hi-tech and services powerhouse over the next five years. Delivering his report at the opening of the Municipal People's Congress yesterday, Mr Xu said Shanghai should hasten its expansion into an international economic, financial and trade centre. Mr Xu said the goal of the 10th Five-Year Plan was to optimise the city's economic structure to improve its competitiveness in the global marketplace. Following the mainland's entry into the World Trade Organisation, Shanghai should move to make greater use of foreign investment and overseas trade, the mayor said. The Shanghai Government is moving to capitalise on almost a decade of unprecedented double-digit economic expansion, capped by last year's 10.8 per cent growth in gross domestic product (GDP). Mr Xu said the city's economy should continue to grow on average between nine and 11 per cent over the next five years, with the city's GDP reaching 730 billion yuan (HK$686 billion) by 2005, a rise of 60 per cent over last year's output of 455.1 billion yuan. Among the industries the mayor pegged for development were bio-medicine, new materials, and integrated chips, along with traditional sectors such as steel and chemicals production. Mr Xu estimated that the city's self-described hi-tech industries such as telecommunications, computers and software would comprise more than 13 per cent of the local economy by 2005, from 7.7 per cent last year. The mayor also said the Government hoped to turn Shanghai into an international automotive city, through its partnerships with Volkswagen and General Motors. To expedite the city's modernisation, the mayor said cumulative fixed-asset investment should reach 1,000 billion yuan by 2005, a rise in spending of about 10 per cent over the previous five-year period. Mr Xu said the establishment of a more standard labour market and the training of 1.37 million technicians and managers were crucial to the Government's efforts. He characterised talent as a 'precious resource', particularly for the city's emerging hi-tech, insurance and financial services industries. If the mayor sounded a sour note yesterday, it was his estimation that, even with a rapidly expanding economy, continued lay-offs and joblessness were inevitable. He called for registered unemployment to be held below 4.5 per cent over the next five years. That would represent an increase of at least one per cent over last year's unemployment rate of 3.5 per cent, representing 200,800 workers. A further 71,700 city employees were classified separately as laid off. Much of the anticipated rise in unemployment is due to the restructuring of state-owned industry, which has forced hundreds of thousands of workers out of work in recent years.